Homepage search usability is a key differentiating factor in the battle between Google and Yahoo.
Google's claim to fame is the simplicity of its stark homepage. Yahoo has invested heavily in the redesign of its hompage.
Both Google and Yahoo fall short in a key area of homepage search usability: direct to vertical search from the homepage.
Vertical search is key to both Google and Yahoo for their future growth. Vertical search users may be considered more "quailified" leads than general search users and ads on vertical SERPs, therefore, may command higher rates.
Both Google and Yahoo can improve their vertical search from the homepage. How do Google and Yahoo compare?
The Yahoo “Welcome to the all-new Yahoo! It’s made for you” “quick tour” of its “new” and “improved” homepage features a "search smarter" tour:
Find things faster and easier with handy tabs to narrow your search…
Click a tab to focus your search on Images, Video, Local and more…
Yahoo neglects to indicate, however, that while a “click on a tab” may “focus” a search on a vertical, a “click on a tab” is not sufficient to initiate a search, of any type.
Yahoo’s “handy tabs” vertical search from the homepage requires two-clicks from the user to initiate a search: first a click on a vertical tab, and then a click on the subsequently renamed vertical search button.
Usability testing observing a “typical” non-tech savvy Yahoo user might very well reveal that a significant number of Yahoo users become “nonplussed” when a “click on a tab” does not initiate the chosen vertical search, or any search.
At the Google homepage, two of the five featured vertical search options are launched directly via a single click on a vertical tab: news and maps. Searches from the homepage for the other three verticals featured, however, lead to the specific vertical's homepage for initiation of a specialized search.